Despite the fact that I do, indeed, bake often, I trash a lot of what I make. Why? Because I'm haphazard. I experiment. I run out of vanilla extract so I put in mint. I substitute regular milk for buttermilk. I halve ingredients, I add stuff that I think will taste "fine" to the recipe. It doesn't. I don't have cooking skills. I need recipes. And more importantly, I need to follow them.
No one has ever accused me of being a perfectionist. In baking, I try to use the least amount of dishes and really common (and often generic) brands and ingredients. Since my repertoire is small, I've spent much time perfecting the simple pleasures (read: recipes) in life. I believe these treats are the perfect way to say "thank you" or "screw this diet" without having to do anything fancy and without having to take much time or energy.
On occasion, I'd like to share my honed recipes on Bites. Most aren't original to me — but I've done the legwork for you. I've tested and tested (and my colleagues have eaten) many a sweet, and these are the best recipes I can find.
Today: the classic chocolate chip cookie.
But first! In this day and age, who wants to lug out a cookbook or worse — put your laptop on the counter and risk egg splatter? Solution: take a photo of the recipe on your computer screen. If you have a smart phone, you can zoom in on the text when you're cooking. I now have, like, 50 photos on my phone — no, not of loved ones, but of recipes.
This recipe is recommended if you like soft — but not cakey — chocolate chip cookies, with a bit of a chewy center.
(originally adopted from "The Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie" on allrecipes.com)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
(Note: On a "diet?" Yeah, me too. That "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter for Cooking and Baking" is fantastic for cooking. Seriously. Don't try any other reduced-fat butter. I'm warning you.)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 cups chocolate chips
(Note: Semi-sweet is preferable, but if, say, your significant other has never noticed there is more than one type of chocolate chip, milk chocolate will do in a pinch. The cookies will just be super-sweet. This is the only thing I recommend buying non-generic. I've found if the cocoa percentage is 60 or higher, the cookies are better. Exception: Private Selection semi-sweet chips — delicious and generic. Found at Kroger.)
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. *
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
3. Place in refrigerator for as long as you can stand. This usually means 30 minutes for me. You can bake right away, but the cookies tend to flatten out that way and run together. No one wants a cookie like that.
4. Preheat oven to 325. (Yes, you read that right. I said 325.)
5. Drop cookie dough a large spoonful at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about two inches apart. And by the way, I always spray Pam on the sheets — non-stick or not. Saves a headache.
6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
* Honestly, I never do this. But it is what the pros say to do … like, in every recipe, ever. If you do it, your cookies will probably have some intangible superior quality. But I like to only use one dish, so I dump all the ingredients in together after the eggs are mixed in.
So if you don't want to wait overnight to eat your cookies, you only have one type of flour on hand, and the precise directions of Jacques Torres' quest for the perfect cookie frighten you, give this recipe a try. I'd love to hear (or taste!) how it turns out.